Features to Look for in a Sleeper Sofa

A sleeper sofa is a big investment. Know what to look for as you're making your decision.

Shopping for a sleeper sofa? Here's what to look for

You've probably been an overnight guest at a friend's place or a family member's house and wondered, "Where am I supposed to sleep?" And then your host points to the sofa and says, "It pulls out into a bed!" OK, great...that's convenient. Maybe you should consider one yourself since it'll save you the expense of buying a guest bed. But what do you look for in a sleeper sofa? Read on.


Whether you're relaxing on it as a sofa or sleeping on it as a bed, you obviously want it to be comfortable. The best way to know for sure is to head to a furniture store and try them out. Do you like a more firm cushion? Or something you sink into when you're ready to binge-watch? Make sure you try out the mattress as well—pull out the bed and see how it feels. You generally want a mattress that's at least 5 or 6 inches thick, or else you're going to have a pretty rough night's sleep.


The size of your living area will obviously determine the size of sofa you want to buy. If you've got the space, go bigger, and you'll have the benefits of a larger bed. There are plenty of size options out there, from futons and love seats to queen-sized, corners, and sectionals.

Pull-Out Mechanisms

Sleeper sofas are all about convenience, so you want to find one that easily converts from couch to bed. There are a few options. The traditional pull-out mechanism is just what it sounds like. Once the sofa cushions are removed, a handle or bar is pulled up, which pulls the folded mattress out of the sofa; you then unfold the bed and set up the legs on the floor and you've got yourself a bed. There's also the futon style (just like college!), which generally just unfolds to create a sleeping space with a removable mattress. Sleeper sofas are similar to futons, except many feature a removable back support to create a larger sleeping area. Sleeper sectionals also often feature a pull-out footrest or pull-out mattress, which provides a flat bed. Whichever style you choose, be sure that it sets up smoothly and easily, otherwise it defeats the point of having a sleeper sofa for convenience.


A sleeper sofa loses much of its charm if the mattress is uncomfortable. No one wants to attempt seven or eight hours of sleep with a metal bar jabbing into their back. So the right mattress is important, and there are several ways you can go. Most sofa beds come with a traditional innerspring coil mattress, which probably means well but doesn't really end well for you. If you go with this type of mattress, make sure it's thick enough to keep you and your guests comfortable through the night. Memory foam is a solid option, as it provides a thicker, firmer surface that is comfortable and should provide protection from the bed's bars. Gel memory foam takes memory foam one step further, as it offers a layer of gel foam that protects against heat retention, leading to a cooler, more comfortable sleep. If you want to get really fancy, you could opt for an inflatable mattress! Yes, this is an option—just pump up the deflated mattress stored within the sofa, and you've got a comfy mattress that's nearly as thick as a standard bed mattress.

Style  and Versatility

No matter your decor or style, there's most likely a sleeper sofa that will match. From clean and minimalist to retro to homey and country, there's a sofa bed out there to fit any home. And there are several options as far as upholstery as well—cloth, leather, microsuede. You'll find just about any fabric used on a standard couch is used on a sleeper sofa as well.

Many sleeper sofas do more than just transform into a bed. There are split-back designs that allow you to fold part of the sofa into a bed and keep part of it upright, perfect if you want to sit next to a sleeping child. Some models recline, so you've got yourself a mega-recliner-sofa! Others have built-in bedding storage and pull-out footrests. Any of these options will help make your guest area cozy.


As with any piece of furniture, you want to make sure your sleeper sofa is solid and sturdy. Most models utilize wooden or metal frames, so they should stand the test of time. But if you anticipate your sleeper sofa will get a lot of use as a sofa and a bed, you'll probably want to find a model that more closely resembles a traditional sofa (construction-wise) than a traditional sofa bed.

Resources— HunkerHomeditThe Sleep Judge

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